COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Zed Key laid in the game winner with less than a second left to help No. 17 Ohio State survive a season-opening scare from Akron, 67-66.
True freshman Malaki Branham was clutch down the stretch scoring five points in the last six minutes and dished out the assist that directly led to Key’s game winner.
E.J. Liddell poured in a game-high 25 points along with 11 rebounds but fouled out with six seconds left after committing an ill-advised foul on Akron’s Ali Ali who was in the process of shooting a three to tie the game. Ali’s three went in and he hit the free throw to give the Zips a 66-65 lead.
Ohio State took a timeout at half court with less than three seconds left, inbounded the ball to Branham who had an open look at three but instead threw a two-handed, over head pass to an unguarded Key under the basket, leading to the game-winning lay up with .03 seconds left.
The Buckeyes had not lost a game to Akron since 1913.
Ohio State shot better than 43% from the field and out-rebounded the Zips 38 to 34 but turned the ball over 11 times and committed 15 fouls. OSU also struggled from behind the arc going 4-for-14.
Akron’s Ali Ali finished with a team-high 17 points while K.J. Walton added 16 in the loss.
Zed Key was the only other Buckeye to score in double digits with 14 points and scored six of the Buckeyes’ last eight points.
The Buckeyes return to action Friday to host Niagara.